1 August 2021
Watts Gallery - Artists' Village
Watts Gallery is delighted to announce that our newest sculptural installation by artist Deborah Davies (Dd) will continue to be exhibited at Watts Gallery throughout the Summer of 2021. The sculpture, entitled Belonging, consists of a series of suspended large-scale willow balls and explores the potential of art as an activist tool, referencing ideas of societal prejudice, displacement and loneliness. Each ball is intricately woven in willow, holding an individual identity through its structure, size and colour. The forms jostle together, at once huddling for protection and fighting to be seen. Yet there is also a tension in their placement - the sculptural forms have been carved from nature but they no longer belong to the nature surrounding them. Dd states that the work can be interpreted as 'a comment on the other and the stark differences that people see in each other. There is the potential in society not to fit it, to not quite belong anywhere. This work acts as an exploration of boundaries, categories and inclusion. The intention of this work is to promote acceptance and social equality'.
Drawing on her wider practice, Dd reveals how Belonging builds on her work as an activist artist: 'I consider myself to be a contemporary artist and activist. In the broadest sense, my work is about boundaries, transparency, exclusion and power, or lack thereof. I hope that my work acts as a catalyst for conversation and thought. I want viewers to be moved by the craft of making or the beauty of the art I create, but also to appreciate the political messages in my work. The materials I use are important for this, as certain materials carry a history or cultural references, that I either work with or work against. Ultimately, everyone is allowed to bring their own understanding to all art works, shaped by their own experiences or realities, their politics and agenda. In truth, everything is political. But in my sculpture Belonging, I want to push the message of change a bit harder than most.'
Dd (Deborah Davies) currently lives and works in Hampshire, England. She holds a BA (Hons) in Photography and MA in Fine Art with Distinction, both from UCA Farnham. She has exhibited extensively across the UK, in Berlin and USA and has also undertaken residencies at the The Centre for Creative Collaboration at the University of London, UCA Farnham and Millfield School in Somerset. Dd works in a variety of media, from bronze, plaster, textiles and wood to less traditional materials, including found objects, sawdust, plastics and acrylics, and often incorporating elements of technology in her works. Dd describes her practice as 'activist art', looking at societal injustices, political power and community empowerment. Her works are often interactive, each one reflecting on the spaces or communities they inhabit.
Belonging was previously exhibited by Surrey Hills Arts as part of the Heathland Artworks trail (2020).
Belonging is about displacement, the desire to fit in and the prejudice born out of classification. The willow balls are distinctly different from the nature they find themselves amongst. For protection, they swarm and huddle together. Their attempt is to settle into the landscape, however there is a tension and an awareness that they don't quite belong. They belong to nature, but not to the nature surrounding them.
The piece can be interpreted as a comment on the differences people see in each other, differences that can lead to feelings of not fitting in, of not quite belonging at all. The work acts as an exploration of boundaries, of category, inclusion and acceptance.
Deborah Davies –